Better Living by Overcoming Safely and Securely the Obstacles of Memory
For those experiencing cognitive decline, living in an inclusive environment is important to their quality of life. By maximizing care, support, health, and well-being, a sense of normalcy is created, and the person feels valued as an individual.
BLOSSOM Living, initiated by All Seniors Care Chief Operating Officer, Lily Goodman, focuses on the creation of just such an environment.
“When we create a safe, secure, and supportive home, it gives people experiencing cognitive impairment the opportunity to thrive and grow”, says Goodman.
She explains that “as residents age, we see the impact of memory decline in many different ways. Our BLOSSOM curriculum was created and introduced as the next step in our commitment to encourage an inclusive community – one in which we focus on each individual as a complete person.”
Life Enrichment Program Improves Quality of Life
According to Cheryl Holmes, Senior Executive Director at the retirement home in Winnipeg, families with loved ones in the curriculum call it a blessing. “The peace of mind that their mom or dad is not isolated all day really brings them joy -and family members love hearing what their loved one is up to every day,” says Holmes.
With programming that encompasses many different interests from folksong to baking, gardening to bingo and painting to cycling, seniors enrolled in BLOSSOM Living are busy!
“Having a small group of peers to spend the day with fits perfectly into their comfort level,” says Holmes. “And a familiar face (our full time Blossom Coordinator) who encourages them to participate goes a long way toward getting seniors engaged and is much appreciated by families.”
Holmes calls the additional level of service a game changer. “People remain comfortably in their suite while receiving specialized memory care supports. Residents are loving the program!”
How To Help Someone with Memory Loss
We believe that recreational activities play an important role when it comes to defining quality of life. By offering a wide variety of programs that focus on key areas of wellness, we are able to create meaningful activities that are engaging and provide an opportunity for enjoyment, social contact, and growth.
“Before we implemented BLOSSOM Living, many residents with memory decline were confused, agitated, and not motivated to participate in activities. Since joining BLOSSOM, residents are excited to get up in the morning, then spend the day doing things of interest. They aren’t agitated anymore and look forward to their daily activities! They are making friends and feel like they are part of something meaningful.” – Etta Gover, Senior Blossom Coordinator, Chapel Hill, Ottawa
Small changes to nutrition can also positively impact cognitive awareness. Our menus have been reviewed by dieticians and are continuously monitored to identify Brain Healthy options at every meal that are clearly identified and available to all residents, without compromising on taste.
Strengths of BLOSSOM:
- Holistic approach that supports autonomy.
- A dedicated schedule of activities that focus on cognitive, social, physical, sensory, emotional, and spiritual needs.
- Person-centred program focused on the needs, likes, interest, and health of the resident so that changes can be easily monitored.
- Secure, monitored entrance and entry points where staff are available for support.
- Dedicated, trained staff, including managers, nursing support, a BLOSSOM co-ordinator, dietary staff, and a large creative activity team with a small staff to resident ratio.
- Fresh, seasonal brain healthy menus with flexible choices.
While each retirement community has a unique approach that reflects the culture of its residents, the unifying principle behind BLOSSOM is inclusion. A participating residence runs two streams of programming. Spouses can attend regular programming -or just take a self-care break- while the person experiencing cognitive decline attends a BLOSSOM program.
Early Intervention for Mild Cognitive Decline
Some degree of memory problems, as well as a modest decline in other thinking skills, is a common part of aging. There’s a difference, however, between normal changes in memory and memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. Mild cognitive impairment affects memory and other abilities but is not severe enough to interfere with a person’s independence. However, there is a higher risk of developing dementia.
An accumulated body of research indicates that early interventions, like engagement in cognitive activity, physical exercise, and better nutrition, might together help improve cognitive functions and slow progression. According to Dr. Frank Knoefel, a physician at the Bruyère Memory Program in Ottawa, seeking support early is crucial.
“In my experience with progressing cognitive decline there is associated functional decline. Eventually it is no longer safe for my patients to live alone”, says Knoefel. “A retirement community that offers a holistic approach with physical, cognitive, and social stimulation is a great option.”
“The challenge is when to move”, says Knoefel. “No one wants to leave their home sooner than absolutely necessary. Yet the sooner they move, the easier it will be to adapt to the new environment – and the longer they will be able to stay in one place. The longer they wait, the worse the cognition will be, and the more difficult the change. A program like Blossom provides a path to earlier and hence easier transition.”
The bottom line? By moving into an Age-in-Place community early, changes in memory are more manageable and less disruptive to an individual’s ability to live independently and maintain a healthy social life.
BLOSSOM Living Promotes an Inclusive Community for Seniors
The enhanced independent living option allows autonomous seniors and their partners to put down roots early, develop routines, make friends, and become familiar with the environment.
By providing structure and routine for the person living with memory loss, the program helps to maintain their cognitive function, a sense of security, and even calms anxious behaviours. It also helps provide a sense of control over their day and their environment, especially for those in the early stages of the dementia.
Deniece Van Putten, Blossom Coordinator at Auburn Heights senior housing in Calgary, believes the program is an impactful initiative.
“We currently have a number of ladies in our BLOSSOM program, many of whom have dementia. One lady wouldn’t come out of her room when she first moved in. With lots of encouragement, enthusiasm, and persistence she started coming to activities,” Van Putten recounts. “Once she came to a few programs and made some friends, she became less resistant and came to more and more activities. After a while she started looking for the BLOSSOM group without prompting from staff. Today, she is smiling, laughing, and one of our most active participants.
“The positive feedback that we receive from families and residents about the BLOSSOM program and the impact it has made on their loved one’s lives is truly heartening and inspirational,” says Van Putten.
Added Support for Seniors with Mild Cognitive Impairment
Rather than segregate those with cognitive decline, BLOSSOM contributes to an inclusive retirement community where people work to create a feeling of togetherness. Dedicated to excellence in care, BLOSSOM Living is an add-on service available at ASC residences in many provinces.
You can contact us anytime for more information about BLOSSOM and how you or your loved ones can enroll in the program. We have seniors housing options in Calgary, assisted living Winnipeg north, senior housing Regina, memory care in Ottawa, and more.
Writer – Julianna McLeod
Julianna is a health and wellness expert at All Seniors Care. Her mission is to create content that empowers seniors to form sustainable solutions for lasting health and happiness. She is an experienced writer, editor, and Recreational Therapist living in Toronto.